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National Eye Health Week debate in Scottish Parliament

 

Stuart McMillan MSP led a National Eye Health Week debate in Scottish Parliament on 25.09.18

You can listen again to the whole debate here

 

Published 26 September 2018

New health map highlights areas of the UK at greatest risk of sight loss

A new map produced by Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for running National Eye Health Week (24 – 30 September), highlights areas of UK – including Barking and Dagenham, Reading, Swansea, Nottingham and Newcastle ­– where poor lifestyle habits and inadequate health screening are putting residents at serious risk of sight loss.

Eye Health Map 2018

There are a million people in the UK currently living with ‘avoidable’ sight loss – leaving them unable to do things such as drive. Forecasters predict this figure could rise by a third by 2030, if action isn’t taken now[1].

Prevention and early diagnosis of common eye conditions are key to reducing the number of people suffering sight loss unnecessarily” explains David Cartwright Chairman of Eye Health UK “however, in towns and cities like Bristol, Liverpool, Luton and Manchester we are seeing a worrying number of people failing to take up their entitlement to free NHS sight tests and displaying high levels of smoking and obesity – two lifestyle factors linked to sight loss.”

Lifestyle habits impact your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition.[2] Being physically active has been shown to reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle[3]; whilst a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+ has been linked to the four most common causes of sight loss: macular disease, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. [4]

Research published in the British Medical Journal reveals as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption.[5] Making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today.[6]

Poor uptake of regular eye tests is another big risk to the nation’s eye health. Almost 14 million (13.8) of us fail to have our eyes checked once every two years, as recommended, and one in 10 of us have never had our eyes checked.[7]

Cathy Yelf, CEO of the Macular Society said: “Age-related macular degeneration is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK, affecting 600,000 people. By 2050 this number is expected to double. It is an urgent public health issue. Regular eye tests can detect Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) early, which is crucial in preserving vision and the quality of life of patients.”

“If you are told you have early AMD, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of the disease progressing.” says Yelf. “If you smoke, stop. Smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. Smoking kills the cells of the retina, reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the eye and damages blood vessels. Smoking causes AMD to progress faster and makes treatment less effective.

“Take moderate exercise to maintain a healthy weight and normal blood pressure and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables. These contain nutrients that are thought to be important to eye health.”

The introduction NHS funded eye tests for everyone in Scotland in April 2006 has helped reduce the risk of avoidable sight loss north of the border where uptake of eye tests has risen by around 30 per cent over the last decade. However, health inequalities still exist here with high prevalence of poor lifestyle habits linked to poor eye health.

 

Towns and cities of the UK with the highest risk of avoidable sight loss due to low uptake of eye tests and high prevalence of poor lifestyle

Barking and Dagenham

Barnsley

Belfast

Bolton

Brent

Brighton and Hove

Bristol

Bury

Camden

Coventry

Crawley

Denbighshire

Derby

Derry and Strabane

Doncaster

Ealing Eastbourne

Enfield

Gateshead

Gloucester

Gosport

Gravesham

Greenwich

Hackney

Haringey

Harrow

Hastings

Havant

Havering

Hounslow

Isle of Wight

 

Islington

Knowsley

Lambeth

Lewisham

Liverpool

Luton

Manchester

Medway

Morton

Newcastle upon Tyne

Newham

North Tyneside

Nottingham

Oldham

Oxford

 

Poole

Portsmouth

Reading

Redbridge

Rochdale

Rotherham

Rushmoor

Salford

Sefton

Sheffield

Slough

South Bucks

South Tyneside

Southampton

Southwark

St Helens

Stevenage

Sunderland

Sutton

Swansea

Swindon

Tameside

Thanet

Tower Hamlets

Waltham Forest

Weymouth and Portland

Wigan

Wrexham

Wycombe

 

[1] State of the Nation’s Eyes report 2017 [http://rnib.org.uk/state-nation-2017]

[2] Kristin J. Myers et al. Ophthalmology Journal Vol 122

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047137/

[4] The body mass index (BMI) is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. The BMI calculation divides an adult's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared.

[5] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537

[6] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data

[7] Generation Eye Report, Eye Health UK sponsored by Specsavers

 

* This map was created for Eye Health UK by Experian. It correlates key factors (eye test uptake, smoking, exercise, obesity, healthy eating and alcohol consumption) associated with avoidable sight loss. Factors were weighted as follows: eye test uptake (50%); lifestyle behaviours (50%) (smoking - 20%, exercise - 20%, obesity - 20% healthy eating - 20% and alcohol consumption – 20%). Data sources include lifestyle variables from the Experian’s Mosaic geo-demograhic segmentation tool, Health and Social Care Information Centre statistics; Information Services Division, NHS Scotland data; NHS ophthalmic statistics from Welsh Govt plus Health and Social Care Northern Ireland data. For a full list of citations contact rachel@visionmatters.org.uk

 

Published : 24 September 2018

Eye Health Supplement published with The Sunday Times 23.09.18

Front page of Sunday Times Eye Health Supplement

The National Eye Health Week supplement published in The Sunday Times today (23 September) takes a look at the state of the nation's eye health and explains why eye health can not be ignored. Read it again here

 

All Rights Reserved

 

Published : 23 September 2018

2018 edition of Vista magazine published

National Eye Health Week has teamed up with the Central Optical Fund to publish Vista, a 56-page consumer lifestyle magazine designed to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests and how lifestyle choices can affect eye health.

 

Edited by experienced consumer health journalist, Rachel Symonds, with contributions from leading healthcare experts, Vista brings together an inspiring mix of important eye care advice including features on the importance of regular eye tests, recipes rich in eye-friendly nutrients, celebrity interviews, true life stories recounting people’s experiences of living with poor eye health, tips on how to be screen smart, caring for your eyes on the ski slopes and a guide to family-friendly ski resorts and so much more.

 

David Cartwright, Chair of Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for National Eye Health Week comments: “Vista is an exciting concept in public eye health promotion. By presenting important health messages in a stylish magazine format we hope to encourage more people to have regular eye tests and inspire them to make healthier lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of avoidable sight loss.”

 

Copies of Vista are available at National Eye Health Week supporter events nationwide and online.

 

Cove of Vista magazine

Click on the cover to read Vista online.

 

Published 14 September 2018

Say 'EyeQuit" This No Smoking Day (14 March 2018)

Did you know the link between smoking and sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer? To mark National Eye Health Week we're highlighting twenty ways smoking can affect your vision and eye health.

 

#1 Tobacco smoke causes biological changes in your eyes that can lead to vision loss

#2 Cigarettes contain toxins that enter your eyes & increase your risk of sight loss by up to four times

#3 Tobacco chemicals damage blood vessels inside your eyes

#4 Tobacco chemicals interfere with the production of your tears

#5 Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina

#6 Tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula

#7 Smoking is a key risk factor for #AMD, the UK’s leading cause of blindness

#8 Research published in @bmj suggests 1 in 5 cases of #AMD are caused by tobacco consumption

#9 On average smokers develop #AMD 5 years earlier than non-smokers

#10 Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of cataracts

#11 The risk of nuclear cataracts is 3 times greater in smokers

#12 Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing diabetic retinopathy

#13 Smoking increases your risk of dry eye syndrome – the leading cause of eye irritation in over 65s

#14 Smoking is associated with the development of thyroid eye disease

#15 Smokers have increased prevalence of colour vision deficiency

#16 Nicotine poisoning can make it difficult to clearly distinguish colours with a red or green hue

#17 Smokers are twice as likely to suffer Uveitis than non-smokers.

#18 Smoking increases the risk of contact lens wearers suffering corneal ulcers 

#19 Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of your child having a squint 

#20 Smoking around loved ones increases their risk of suffering sight loss

 

Say #eyequit today. For help to stop smoking visit quitnow.smokefree.org.uk

 

 

Published: 30 Sept 2018

National Eye Health Week 2017 in Review

The 2017 National Eye Health Week campaign was the most successful to date. Click on the Spreading the Word on Eye Health cover below for a summary of key activities and outcomes from the campaign.

 

Spreading the Word on Eye Health Cover Image

 

 

Published : 28 February 2018

Winter eye care advice

As temperatures plummet here are some top tips on keeping your eyes bright and healthy through the winter months.

Cold winter winds and central heating can play havoc with your eyes leaving them feeling dry, gritty, and sore – especially at the end of the day when symptoms are often at their worst. Cranking up your central heating can also trigger conjunctival hyperaemia (blood shot eyes).

Beat dry eye this winter by reducing the setting on your central heating, protecting your eyes from the wind; avoiding car heaters, particularly at face level and sitting away from direct heat such as gas or electric fires.

Cutting back on your coffee consumption and using therapeutic drops can also help reduce symptoms of dry eye.

Respiratory infections such as common colds and flu can inflame your conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers the whites of your eyes) leaving your eyes feeling sore and irritated.

Prevent cross infection from bacteria in coughs and colds by washing your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes.

Don't put away your sunglasses just yet! Sunglasses provide valuable protection for your eyes all year-round, not just in the hot summer months.

Cumulative damage caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can increase your risk of suffering sight-threatening conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

The charity, Eye Health UK advises that you wear sunglasses whenever the UV Index rises above three – this can occur even on a cloudy day, so keep an eye on the Met Office's UV forecast.

Snowy conditions can also reflect more UV radiation into your eyes so sunglasses are particularly important after snow or when enjoying winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding.

Leafy greens provide vital nutrients (lutein and zeaxantin) to help keep your eyes healthy so now that salad days are over make sure you eat plenty good green winter veg like kale, chard and spinach.

Winter is also a great time to get your sight tested as poor light conditions can mean your eyes have to work harder, making them more susceptible to fatigue and eye strain.

 

Published : 4 December 2017

Say #EyeQuit for #Stoptober

Did you know the link between smoking and sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer? To encourage people to say #EyeQuit for #Stoptober we're highlighting twenty ways smoking can affect your vision and eye health.

 

#1 Tobacco smoke causes biological changes in your eyes that can lead to vision loss

#2 Cigarettes contain toxins that enter your eyes & increase your risk of sight loss by up to four times

#3 Tobacco chemicals damage blood vessels inside your eyes

#4 Tobacco chemicals interfere with the production of your tears

#5 Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina

#6 Tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula

#7 Smoking is a key risk factor for #AMD, the UK’s leading cause of blindness

#8 Research published in @bmj suggests 1 in 5 cases of #AMD are caused by tobacco consumption

#9 On average smokers develop #AMD 5 years earlier than non-smokers

#10 Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of cataracts

#11 The risk of nuclear cataracts is 3 times greater in smokers

#12 Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing diabetic retinopathy

#13 Smoking increases your risk of dry eye syndrome – the leading cause of eye irritation in over 65s

#14 Smoking is associated with the development of thyroid eye disease

#15 Smokers have increased prevalence of colour vision deficiency

#16 Nicotine poisoning can make it difficult to clearly distinguish colours with a red or green hue

#17 Smokers are twice as likely to suffer Uveitis than non-smokers.

#18 Smoking increases the risk of contact lens wearers suffering corneal ulcers 

#19 Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of your child having a squint 

#20 Smoking around loved ones increases their risk of suffering sight loss

 

Say #EyeQuit today. For help to stop smoking visit quitnow.smokefree.org.uk

 

Published : 24 September 2017

Royal Mail & Eye Health UK join forces to promote good eye health

postmark image

Royal Mail and Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for National Eye Health Week, are joining forces to promote the importance of good eye health to millions of households across the UK, with a postmark.

The special National Eye Health Week postmark will appear on all stamped mail delivered by Royal Mail between 21 – 23 September 2017.

It’s hoped the postmark will not only be seen by millions, but also encourage people to think about their eyes and how much they rely on good vision to do everyday things like reading their mail!

Commenting on the collaboration David Cartwright, Chairman of Eye Health UK said: “One million people in the UK suffer with avoidable sight loss that makes doing things like reading difficult, or even, impossible. We hope that when this message drops through people’s letter boxes and raises awareness of the Week it will prompt them to take action to ensure their eyes and vision stay healthy.” 

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are really pleased to be joining the campaign to encourage more people to consider the health of their eyes. We hope that this postmark will help spread the message.”  

The last posting date for National Eye Health Week postmarked mail will be 22 September 2017.

 

Published : 20 September 2017

Channel 4 & RNIB present advertising first for National Eye Health Week

Channel 4 will mark National Eye Health Week this evening when it presents a very special ad break, giving viewers the chance to watch TV through the eyes of somebody living with sight loss.

This unique campaign was produced with the support of RNIB and Eye Health UK (organisers of National Eye Health Week) alongside five advertisers and aims to raise awareness of the importance of looking after your eyes.

The five advertisements will be broadcast during Channel 4’s The Undateables at 9.15pm and 9.30pm. Each ad uses different filters that mimic five common eye conditions in the UK – macular degeneration, cataracts, eye conditions caused by diabetes, hemianopia and glaucoma.

 

Published : 18 September